Author Motivation: An Interview Examining Personality Theory
McMahon, James, Abrams, Mike, Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies
Background: In late October, 2008, Dr. Mike Abrams presented a four hour lecture with questions on his text (written with Albert Ellis et al) at the Albert Ellis Institute in Manhattan. Dr. McMahon attended the lecture. At the conclusion of the lecture, Dr. McMahon asked Dr. Abrams if he would consent to answer questions (below). He accepted to do so without reservation. In turn, Dr. McMahon asked Prof. Dr. Daniel David, Editor of the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapies if he would be interested in publishing the interview. He readily agreed. McMahon is a trustee of the AEI, as well as a life member and supervisor of the Institute. Abrams is a Fellow of the Institute, co-leader of a private practice in psychotherapy with his wife, Lidia Abrams PhD, and a faculty member at Montclair State University in New Jersey. McMahon is Professor of the University. State University of Oradea, Romania, and Visiting Professor of Pastoral Interventions in Theology at BBU, Cluj, Romania.
1. Briefly tell us about the following: where did you grow up, in what kind of family, what kinds of grade and high school did you attend, what was your undergraduate major, and where did you do your graduate work and in what field(s)?
I grew up in Queens, NYC in a home with two working class parents and a younger sister. I attended local public schools in New York City all the way through Queens College of the City University of New York. At Queens College I had a dual major in history and college administration.
Immediately upon graduation I commenced studies at the New York University Stern School of Business. I was given a graduate teaching fellowship, which made a private university financially accessible to me. After earning my MBA I worked for several years in large finance corporations such as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and The New York Stock Exchange
After 7 years of such work, I started graduate studies again, earning an advanced certificate in statistics, which I saw as a means to acceptance to a doctoral program in psychology. This led to my acceptance into PhD psychology program at the City University of New York in 1984 from which I was awarded that degree in 1987.
From seeking additional clinical training I studied for a while under psychoanalyst Robert Langs, and then attended the Freudian based post-doctoral clinical program at Columbia University. These studies crystallized my conviction that psychoanalysis did no represent a scientifically based clinical theory or scientifically based basis for clinical practice. It was then that I went to study at the Albert Ellis Institute where I completed the two year fellowship program in 1992. This is also where I would meet my future wife, Dr. Lidia Dengelegi Abrams, who completed the Fellowship at AEI in 1992 as well. It was shortly after we completed the Fellowships that we began a long-term collaborative effort with Dr. Ellis-although we interacted with him quite productively and often during the period of Fellowship at AEI.
2. Can you name your first three life thoughts and did they help to shape your vocational choices?
Among my earliest memories was accompanying my mother to visit my psychiatrically disabled half-brother to the numerous psychiatric hospitals in which he was placed. The squalor, the apparent indifference of the staff, and his assertions of continual mistreatment left me with salient and visceral memories. These memories, at least in part, are the impetus of my ultimate pursuit of psychology as a profession. I was always troubled by what I viewed as the harsh and ineffective practices of psychiatry, and after my foray into the business world I pursued my true vocation.
Another quite early memory was of my father telling me of a man who had a doctorate. I remember the awe he expressed when describing the meaning of this degree. Despite having very little formal education himself, he deeply admired those who obtained it. …